ISU Christmas open house

Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee, center left, and his wife, Margaret, greet Carol and Howard Burnett at the Christmas Open House at the ISU Pond Student Union in Pocatello on Tuesday night.

POCATELLO — Since Kevin Satterlee became the president of Idaho State University less than six months ago the school has announced several top-level administrative personnel changes.

ISU is currently searching to fill the following positions after recent administrative turnover: vice president of research, Graduate School dean, College of Business dean, associate vice president of academic affairs and athletic director. ISU did on Monday announce it has hired a vice president of finance and business affairs.

Satterlee says the only one of ISU’s recent administrative personnel changes he was involved with was removing the school’s athletic director, Jeff Tingey.

“It was clear that I needed to make a change in the Athletics Department for a whole list of reasons, so I relieved Jeff of his duties. That was my call,” Satterlee said. “Coming in as the new president of the university I think I am expected to evaluate and do ongoing operational assessments of every unit of the campus. Athletics lent itself to those decisions at the time, but I didn’t have anything to do with the other changes.”

The removal of Tingey as ISU athletic director, which was announced by the university via a news release on Aug. 24, was the first of several major administrative personnel changes to occur during Satterlee’s tenure.

Tingey was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 24 and will continue receiving his annual salary of $150,467 until his contract expires in June 2019. Satterlee previously said that Tingey’s removal had nothing to do with “any scandal or violation, but was about changing the direction of the athletic department.”

Pauline Thiros, the university’s associate vice president for development, was appointed to serve as ISU’s interim athletic director on Aug. 30 and Satterlee said she is in the running to permanently replace Tingey.

The next personnel change among ISU’s top leadership, announced by the university on Sept. 4, was the retirement of Cornelis “Neels” Van der Schyf, effective Dec. 29. Van der Schyf served two roles at ISU, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School.

“It wasn’t too long after I started that Neels said he was ready to retire,” Satterlee said. “He’s had a long career and he had reached that point in his life that he wanted to spend more time with his family. His decision is a big one though, because with his departure we have both of those roles to fill.”

Satterlee added that he has opted to replace Van der Schyf with two new administrators.

“We will have a full-time VP of research and a full-time dean of the Graduate School,” Satterlee said. “Although related because of all the research that goes on for the graduate education program, those are two different functions, so we will be doing a search for both of those positions to be filled by two different people.”

ISU announced on Nov. 1 that Scott Snyder, current dean of the College of Science and Engineering, will serve as the interim vice president for research after Van der Schyf retires at the end of the year. Snyder will continue in his capacity as dean during and after this interim appointment.

ISU announced on Nov. 28 that Karen Wilson Scott will be the interim dean of the Graduate School.

“Karen Wilson Scott is a highly thought of administrator on campus and I think she will do a great job on the graduate side of things until we can hire a permanent replacement,” Satterlee said.

Scott, a former professor and department chair at ISU who currently serves as the university’s associate dean of the College of Education, will begin her new duties on Dec. 30.

“It will cost a little more because we will have two salary lines,” Satterlee said about replacing Van der Schyf with two people. “But given the importance of research to the institution and where we need to go to enhance our research portfolio and given the changes that are coming to graduate school in Idaho, those will be important positions in the future.”

Another change among ISU’s top leaders occurred when Tom Ottaway, the dean of the university’s College of Business, opted to step down on Nov. 14, the same day ISU named Joanne Tokle as acting dean of the College of Business.

“With Tom’s decision there are personnel changes going on at the College of Business and Tom has dealt with a lot of that for quite some time,” Satterlee said. “The College of Business has done some great things and I think Tom got to the point where he was ready to step down. He and I had a conversation and it was his decision.”

Prior to assuming the role of acting dean of the College of Business, Tokle was ISU’s associate vice president of academic affairs.

ISU announced on Nov. 28 that Alan Frantz will be interim associate vice president of academic affairs to replace the vacant position left by Tokle moving over to the College of Business.

Frantz, an emeritus professor of education and faculty assistant for special projects at ISU, began his duties on Dec. 1.

The most recent ISU personnel announcement came on Monday, when the university named its permanent replacement for James Fletcher, the former vice president for finance and business affairs who never returned to ISU after taking paid personal leave in August 2016.

Brian Hickenlooper had served in place of Fletcher as ISU’s interim chief financial officer and remains employed in the university’s finance department.

ISU announced on Monday that Glen Nelson has accepted the position of vice president for finance and business affairs and will begin his duties on Jan. 22 of next year. Nelson was most recently the Arizona State University special adviser to the executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer.

“As we look forward to the years ahead, this leadership position will serve a key role in designing finance and business operations for the university to fulfill the strategic objectives and mission of the institution,” Satterlee said in a Monday news release. “Glen has an extensive background in finance and business affairs. He has breadth and depth of experience in these areas that will undoubtedly serve ISU well. I am confident in Glen’s ability to build relationships across campus and help us build a shared vision for our collective future.”

In terms of all the administrator turnover at ISU except for the removal of Tingey, Satterlee characterized the changes as part of “the natural life cycle of the university.”

Satterlee said, “Whenever you have an organization with a couple thousand employees you are going to have some level of turnover. I really don’t think any of these changes are related to the change of my position or some mission or philosophical change. Some change is healthy.”

Satterlee continued, “It’s always healthy to have a certain level of turnover in your organization, but what’s more important is getting the right person in the right job. But no, I wasn’t given some charge by the Idaho State Board of Education to come in here in clean house. I was not given some charge by them to keep certain people. What I was given was the charge to make sure the university is moving in the direction we all need it and want it to move in.”

Moving forward Satterlee said it’s his goal for the next six months to work to improve employee morale and engagement by fostering an environment of inclusion at ISU.

“For me it’s about organizational development and making sure that we have the right culture that is focused on moving in the right direction,” Satterlee said. “I want to ensure that we are one team working toward a common goal so that everybody can see we are not tied to the status quo but are instead invested in the future.”

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